Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Welcome for mast rejection

LIBERAL Democrat campaigners Peter Andras and Councillor Peter Maughan have welcomed the decision to reject a plan to replace a phone mast at the top of Lobley Hill in Gateshead.

Councillor Maughan, whose Dunston Hill ward includes part of Lobley Hill, spoke at Gateshead Council’s planning committee today, Wednesday 30th January, to ask for the application to be thrown out.

“The plan by 02 to replace the existing mast with one with three antennae was causing concern with residents,” said Councillor Maughan. “I am pleased it has been rejected.”

Peter Andras said, “The mast would have been an eyesore right next to people’s homes if it had been given permission.

“Now that it has been rejected, I am hoping 02 decide not to appeal to get the decision overturned.”

Monday, January 28, 2008

Lib Dem candidate challenges MP to debate on Northern Rock

LIBERAL Democrats in Blaydon constituency on Tyneside have chosen Peter Maughan as their candidate for the general election.

And in the opening shot of his campaign to be Blaydon’s MP, Peter, who represents Dunston Hill and Whickham East as a councillor in the constituency, has challenged the sitting Labour MP David Anderson to a public debate about nationalising Northern Rock.

“I am delighted to have been chosen by fellow Liberal Democrats as the candidate for Blaydon,” said Peter.

“For the past few years, Labour MP David Anderson has postured as the friend of nationalisation. He has called for coal mining, water and train operating companies to be renationalised.

“In economic terms there is little to justify wasting billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on buying up companies that are operating well in the private sector.

“Over the past few years, Mr Anderson has also attacked his own government’s decision to consider privatising the probation service, search and rescue services, civil service jobs, defence training and British Waterways.

“And in November last year, Mr Anderson in Parliament congratulated trade unionists who were fighting privatisation of services.

“Given the record of Mr Anderson, I find it bizarre that he attacked the proposal for the temporary public ownership of Northern Rock when the issue was debated in Parliament in December.

“The government has now put at risk tens of billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money by effectively handing it over to the shareholders and directors of Northern Rock. If the business fails, the taxpayer carries the losses.

“And if Northern Rock is returned to prosperity, the taxpayer gets only a minimal share of the success. The temporary nationalisation of the bank will ensure the benefits go to the taxpayer when it is returned to the private sector in the future.

“Mr Anderson now needs to explain why he has for years been saying one thing, and in the last few weeks has been arguing the exact opposite.

“I am therefore challenging him to a public debate about temporarily nationalising Northern Rock. I have written to him and I am looking forward to his accepting the challenge.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Plan for phone mast opposed

PLANS to replace a phone mast in Lobley Hill, Gateshead, have met with opposition by the area’s Liberal Democrat Action Team.

Team members Councillor Peter Maughan, Susan Craig and Peter Andras have been contacted by residents concerned that the replacement mast will be a worse eyesore than the current mast.

Councillor Maughan, whose Dunston Hill ward includes part of Lobley Hill, has written to Gateshead Council objecting to the plan by mobile phone operator O2.

The company wants to replace the mast at the top of Lobley Hill Bank, one of the most prominent locations in the area.

“The new mast will have three antenae,” said Cllr Maughan. “Residents have raised concerns that this is an eyesore too close to people’s homes.”

Monday, January 21, 2008

Roads in Tyne and Wear more congested than ever before

FIGURES uncovered by the Liberal Democrats in Parliament show that over the past decade, the number of vehicles on roads in Tyne and Wear have increased by 10%.

It means that congestion on local roads has gone up since Labour came to power in 1997, despite promises to reduce the number of people relying on cars to get about.

Councillor Peter Maughan, Liberal Democrat campaigner in Blaydon Constituency, said, “These figures show a worrying increase in the amount of traffic on roads in Tyne and Wear. The reality of the situation is that travelling by public transport is now more expensive but relatively speaking, the cost of travelling by car has fallen.

“When Labour came to power in 1997, John Prescott, who was then deputy Prime Minister, said, ‘I will have failed if in five years’ time there are not many more people using public transport and far fewer journeys by car. It’s a tall order but I urge you to hold me to it.’

“The rise in traffic in Tyne and Wear and across England generally is clearly a huge failure by the Government who promised so much but have delivered more congestion, pollution and more expensive buses and trains.

“The Government needs to look seriously at how to provide better buses and Metro at an affordable price before Tyne and Wear grinds to a halt.

“A Transport Bill is now being debated by Parliament and there are a number of plans in it that will give powers to councils to improve bus services. This is a welcome move but it is a pity that Labour have taken over a decade to get this far.

“Yet even now there is a danger that the powers to improve bus services will be watered down by the Government. Liberal Democrats will be pressing the Government hard to make sure this doesn’t happen.”

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Big Top plan withdrawn

A PROPOSAL to erect a big top style tent for a ten week period seating up to 8,000 people next to a busy suburb in Gateshead has been withdrawn.

Christian group “NE1” submitted the application to Gateshead’s planners last month to install the giant tent to house a weekly gathering on the site of Gateshead Central Nursery, next to Lobley Hill and Dunston Hill.

But residents expressed their opposition to the plan, fearing the area could not cope with the additional traffic for such an extended period. Signatures on a petition were being collected against the proposal.

Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Peter Maughan, who ran the petition on behalf of local residents, said, “Residents were very concerned about the impact on the area.

“The site is used for the Gateshead summer flower show but this lasts only a few days and measures are put in place to reduce parking by visitors in neighbouring streets.

“Using the site for ten weeks was too long so I am pleased the applicants have withdrawn their plan.”

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Big top plans opposed by residents and councillors

RESIDENTS of Lobley Hill and Dunston Hill are fighting plans for a big top to be installed by a religious organisation on the site of the Central Nursery in Gateshead.

And local Liberal Democrat Councillor Peter Maughan has taken a stand against the plans which are due to go before Gateshead’s Planning Committee in the near future.

Councillor Maughan has launched a petition against the proposal for the 8000 seat big top which he will present to the Planning Committee when the decision on the application is taken.

The application is by “NE 1” and if granted will see the big top in place for 10 weeks, hosting a weekly gathering of up to 8,000 people.

Councillor Maughan said, “The Central Nursery is used for one off events such as the Summer Flower Show, but these last for only a few days.

“The police and council do everything possible to cut down on congestion, prevent visitor parking in local streets and arrange for additional public transport.

“This application however is for an 8 week period and the impact on neighbouring Lobley Hill, Dunston Hill and High Grove Estate could be very large.

“I have therefore launched the petition so that local residents, many of whom have already been in touch with me, can put their concerns on record.

“When the applicaiton comes before the Planning Committee, I will be speaking against it.”

Friday, January 04, 2008

Concern over opencast go ahead

LIBERAL Democrats in the Whickham area are warning residents to be ready to fight hard if proposals for opencast mining are resubmitted to Gateshead Council.

The warning was made following the decision by Labour minister Hazel Blears to force through a giant opencast scheme next to Cramlington in Northumberland even though the County Council had rejected the plan.

Ms Blears took the decision to overturn the Council’s rejection of the application in November.

An application for an opencast scheme at Skons Park between Whickham and Rowlands Gill was handed in to Gateshead Council in 2005. Local Liberal Democrat Councillor Jonathan Wallace led the campaign to have the plans thrown out.

Gateshead Council rejected the plan but the applicants, Halls of Spennymoor appealed to government inspectors to allow the opencast scheme to go ahead. Shortly before the appeal was due to be heard, Halls withdrew it. The company stated however that they would return with a new planning application.

“The new application has not yet been submitted,” said Councillor Wallace. “My hope is that Halls will give up.

“However, if they do apply again and are rejected a second time, I am very worried the government will overturn the decision and allow opencast mining to go ahead.

“That is what has happened in Northumberland. The council rejected the plans, and a government minister has now overturned that decision.

“In a debate about opencast mining initiated by Blaydon Labour MP Dave Anderson in Parliament in July 2005, Labour energy minister Malcolm Wicks suggested more opencast mining is needed.

“I am concerned that Labour are set to ruin our countryside and disrupt our towns by backing more openast mining in the North East.

“Hazel Blears’ decision is a green light to mining firms to put in more applications for new opencast schemes as they will feel more confident about support from the government for their plans.”